The NHL Western Conference has been playing at a disadvantage for years. Additional travel made them more tired and less practiced than their Eastern Conference brethren.
The San Jose Sharks travel more than any other team in the 2013-14 NHL season, their mileage increase is minimal compared to teams in the former Atlantic Division that used to play maybe five games more than two hours away from home. That and an East Coast bias hid Western Conference superiority.
Despite this disadvantage that is often more pronounced in the playoffs, five of the last seven Stanley Cup champions won the Campbell Trophy first.
Fans in the Eastern Conference may already be offended. It is not their fault they do not know about Western Conference teams. Media outlets are profit-bound to cater to their audiences, so more of the highlights come from a region with longer hockey traditions and more fans.
Recent Olympic projections were rejected as unworthy of further reading for merely saying Logan Couture is a star. This obviously comes from not seeing enough San Jose games to appreciate his two-way play that makes him more valuable but less noticed.
If one never sees someone play or notice him on NHL.com's list of scoring leaders, he cannot be a star. Real experts like The Hockey News knew enough to rank him as already the 28th-best player (17th-best forward) in the NHL. Still short of his 25th birthday, there are only two younger forwards ranked higher.
Fear The Fin did a great breakdown of East Coast bias in the Vezina Trophy, voted once again to an Eastern Time Zone goalie by NHL general managers. Whether the bias exists among those that know hockey may be debatable, but the awareness of fans is understandable.
After all, they battle not just less exposure but a conference that spends almost half its ice time after bedtime in the Eastern Time Zone. This slideshow shows five things that will happen this season to make it known which conference was better before realignment.